ACTION: Southern Downs landholders will apply for exclusion fencing funding by the end of next month.
ACTION: Southern Downs landholders will apply for exclusion fencing funding by the end of next month. Jonno Colfs

HUGE DROP: Southern Downs sheep plummet from 50,000 to 5000

WILD dogs have caused the number of sheep on the Southern Downs to plummet from 50,000 to 5,000 over the past 10 years, but landholders are fighting back.

An application is being submitted to the State Government for 80km of exclusion fencing to help contain the wild dogs.

Karara landholder Bruce McLeish said a decade ago there was 50,000 sheep within 10km of Karara, but the the number of dogs in the region had climbed from two each year to about 100 over the same time frame.

"The bitches are having more pups and the pups are surviving, with the increase of people going out of sheep and absentee landholders the numbers are multiplying," he said.

Mr McLeish said the Southern Downs used to produce some of the best wool in the world and with wool prices going strong, reviving the industry could benefit the entire community.

"The biggest thing with sheep is the flow on to the community, it's a massive employment and money producer," he said.

"We also have the only sheep selling centre in Queensland, so we really need to have our sheep numbers back to support the only selling centre."

Exclusion fencing will prevent dogs entering the Southern Downs from the east, as well as containing them to make removal easier.

Mr McLeish said landholders had worked closely with the Southern Downs Regional Council to put the application together and urged landholders to take advantage of the council's baiting program this weekend to support dog control.

Sheep aren't the only animals at risk if wild dogs aren't brought under control.

"There's lots of stories of people finding calves killed," Mr McLeish said.

"If all the sheep go out of the Southern Downs they'll move onto another animal such as cattle or horses."

As the Elders zone wool manager, Mr McLeish witnesses the strength of the sheep and wool market and would be pleased to see Southern Downs landholders be able to benefit from the industry again.

"Jackie Howe started in Warwick and we used to have a wool scourer in Warwick, wouldn't it be wonderful to get back to those days," he said.

The fencing is expected to cost $2500 for each kilometre based on previous funding allocations from the government for exclusion fencing.